Monday, July 9, 2012

St. Peter's Cathedral, Vatican

St. Peter's Cathedral is the centre of the Roman Catholic faith. It draws pilgrims from all over the world.The Basilica dominates the Vatican.

A shrine was erected on the site of St. Peter's tomb in the 2nd century and the first great basilica, ordered by the Emperor Constantine, was completed around 349 AD. By the 15th century it was falling down, so in 1506 Pope Julius II laid the first stone of a new church. It took more than a century to build and all the great architects of the Roman Renaissance and Baroque had a hand in its design. 

The dome of St. Peter's was designed by Michelangelo, though not finished in his lifetime, the spectacular cupola, 136.5 m high, gives unity to the majestic interior of the basilica. 

Underneath the church one can visit the tombs of 91 popes. The holiest place, however, is Peter's tomb, containing the "memory", built in the 4th century by the Emperor Constantine, on the spot were the Apostle's tomb was venerated. 

Saint Peter's Basilica can host 20.000 people. The interiors, characterised by huge mosaics, are sites of some of the most famous art works from all over the world, for example, Bernini's baldachin and Michelangelo's Pieta.

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